Our previous article discussed China’s draft amendments to the PRC Criminal Law (“the First Draft”) which introduced a stricter anti-graft regime and tougher sanctions for those involved in corrupt activities. The NPC Standing Committee has recently released the second draft amendments to the PRC Criminal Law (“the Second Draft”) for public comments. The aim is to make reasonable adjustments based on the First Draft, while retaining enhanced enforcement and increased liability against bribery and corruption. The Second Draft imposes tougher punishments on those offering bribes to close relatives of or any persons close to working personnel of the state. One important feature is the additional liability (i.e., fines) on “units” which commit such offences, and persons in charge and directly responsible will be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of no more than three years and concurrently to a fine. The Second Draft also reinstates the mitigation of punishment on bribe-givers whose criminal acts are minor and voluntarily confess their acts. The following table sets out some of the key features of the Second Draft.
|Key features of the Second Draft|
||The First Draft proposed to expand the scope of bribe-givers to impose criminal liability for bribes offered to close relatives of or any persons close to working personnel of the state. Compared to the First Draft, the Second Draft proposes stricter punishment and increases the criminal detention or fixed-term imprisonment period from no more than two years to no more than three years.For a crime where the consequences are serious or the national interest has been severely impaired, in addition to a concurrent fine, the Second Draft increases the proposed fixed-term imprisonment of between two to five years, to between three to seven years. If the consequences are especially serious or the national interest has been extremely severely impaired, in addition to a concurrent fine, the Second Draft increases the proposed fixed-term imprisonment of between five to ten years to between seven to ten years.|
||The First Draft did not impose liability on the “crime unit” responsible for offering bribes to close relatives of or any persons close to working personnel of the state. The Second Draft provides that where units commit such crime, the units will be fined and the person in charge and other directly responsible persons will be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of no more than three years and concurrently to a fine.|
||The current PRC Criminal Law provides an exemption or mitigation of punishment for bribe-givers (under the crime of official bribery) who voluntarily confess their acts of offering bribes.The First Draft retained the voluntary confession requirement for bribe-givers to seek exemption from punishment, and raised the threshold by including additional criteria where the underlying crimes are relatively minor and the offenders assist with exposing corrupt activities of others leading to successful investigations. However, the First Draft removed the provision in respect of mitigation of the punishment. The Second Draft has reinstated the provision in relation to mitigation of the punishment for bribe-givers. Such mitigation will be decided under the same criteria for exemption as described above.|
 Under the PRC Criminal Law, the “Unit” refers to a company, enterprise, institution, PRC state organ, or organization.